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EPL Match Day 25: Arsenal v Everton; Match Preview

Maybe I should feel guilty that I didn’t do something a little more comprehensive about the silly season that all ape shit yesterday. Someone needs to really explain to me how a player who has played all of 6 months in the EPL and scored 11 goals is worth £35 million. By that reckoning we should sell Chamakh for about £40 (an extra £5 million for the goal more he has) and come out ahead. Ah but I digress.

Maybe I should feel guilty that I didn’t do something a little more comprehensive about the silly season that all ape shit yesterday.  Someone needs to really explain to me how a player who has played all of 6 months in the EPL and scored 11 goals is worth £35 million. By that reckoning we should sell Chamakh for about £40 (an extra £5 million for the goal more he has) and come out ahead. Ah but I digress.

Arsenal are coming off a very busy yet fruitful January. In 9 matches they have moved into second in the EPL, they have moved into the 5th round of the FA Cup and secured their place in the Carling Cup final. During all that they have managed to score a plethora of goals and at the same time have managed to keep EPL teams from scoring against them. (Arsenal are the only EPL team to NOT concede a goal in January). Now it is February and frankly I have to agree with our danish wonderkid Nicklas Bendtner when he says –

“This next month is a bit of a decider,” said the Denmark forward, whose deflected goal put Arsenal ahead against the Terriers, only for them to later need a late Cesc Fabregas penalty to see off the challenge of the npower League One side.

“Two cups will be decided and there are matches which will have a massive influence on the Premier League as well.

“February is a big month for us and at the end of it we will see where we are at. Hopefully it will all look fantastic.

The Gunners go into the month with one arm tied behind their back as Samir Nasri simply the best player on the team for the last few months recovers from a hamstring injury he picked up in the first half of the FA Cup tie against Huddersfield Town. His likely replacement will be Andrei Arshavin. Andrei’s season we have disected ad nauseum. Suffice it to say he hasn’t had a good season. We know that and so does he. However, there have been signs in the last few games that he is bearing down on trying to fix his game. Arsenal will need him to do so now so that there aren’t any major blips for the next few weeks.

However, the rest of the first team seems to be back with Bacary Sagna likely to play after his injury suffered against Wigan. This all means that the team that has been so effective of late only has one major change to and if Arshavin finds his form, there should really be no drop off. With Robin Van Persie leading the line and Walcott and Fabregas supporting the attack in their own way the team that faces Everton should be solid top to bottom.

The good news defencively is that Sebastien Squillaci is suspended and can’t cause us any harm. And our regular and growing partnership of Johann Djourou and Laurent Koscielny will take on Everton’s anemic strike force. Arsenal’s new number 1, Wojicech Szczesny will go back between the sticks while Lukasz Fabianski goes under the knife for his injured shoulder.

All in all the team is solid and frankly, I don’t expect it to be easy. Everton are playing well, they just can’t seem to score. But in the end I think the current Arsenal form is too good for Everton and we close the gap on United.

How the Match Should Play Out:
David Moyes is no fool and he is going to know that attack wise his best effort is to try and close up shop and get Arsenal on the counter. The biggest problem for Everton though is that pace of Steven Pienaar is gone and they don’t have someone who is good enough to get the ball up to Louis Saha. Arsenal, at least the first team, are starting to show that they understand how teams are going to set up against them and they are using chip shots over clumped defences to try and unlock them. Their success against “parked teams” comes from a combination of their passing game and lobbed balls over heads to the likes of Van Persie  or others. Look for this to happen and the first Arsenal goal to come with the first 25 minutes. The second one to start the second half. End of the game at that point.

Players To Watch:
Arsenal: Andrei Arshavin. In any situation replacing Samir Nasri in his current form is a tough task. Honestly if any player could do it it is Andrei Arshavin. The big question is, can he be bothered?

Everton: Louis Saha. With the departure of Steven Pienaar, this is essentially the frenchman’s team. They will need him if they are going to close the ten point gap they have between themselves and Sunderland inthe 6th spot.

Probable Starting XI:

Arsenal 4-2-1-2-1 Everton 4-4-2

Injuries and Suspensions:
Arsenal:  Squillaci (Suspended -1 ) Nasri (thigh) Fabianski (shoulder) Frimpong (knee), Vermaelen (Achilles)

Everton: Anichebe (groin) Cahill (international duty) Hibbert (virus) Barkley (leg)

Leading Scorers:
Arsenal: Nasri 14 (9 league) Chamakh 10 (7 league) Walcott 10 (7 league)

Everton: Cahill 9 (9 league) Coleman 5 (3 league) Beckford 5  (3 league)

Last Meeting: (EPL)
Arsenal: 2
Everton: 1

Last 5:
Arsenal: DWDWW
Everton: LLDWD

Goals For:
Arsenal: 2.3 (home)
Everton: 1.1 (away)

Goals Against:
Arsenal: 1.0 (home)
Everton: 1.2 (away)

Goal Difference:
Arsenal: 26
Everton: -2

Match Officials:
Referee: Lee Mason
Assistant referees: Stephen Child & Patrick Keane
Fourth official: Kevin Wright

Broadcast Information:

UK: ?????? 1745 GMT


GAMEDAY CHAT: It’s Open!!!!!!

YAMA Prediction:
Arsenal: 2
Everton: 0


Given that it is the day after one of the wackiest deadline days ever, I thought I should spend some time commenting on it. A lot has been made about a couple of things –

1. The mega deals for Torres, Carroll and Luiz, and

2. The lack of Arsenal movement

First the mega deals. I am absolutely astounded that in this day and age teams would pay this much for players. Now for Chelsea a lot are making noise about this signals intent to go out and try and nip the league. Sorry that ain’t happening. What did Chelsea really get? Well, they got a hell of a striker to complement their other two capable ones. Problem is, if there is one player who has more glass in them than Robin Van Persie, it is Fernando Torres. Additionally, if Le Sulk wanted to find a player who is more moody than he, he has only look at his new teammate.

With the addition of David Luiz you have to wonder what this means for John Terry. Why John Terry you ask? Because David Luiz and him share one thing – (no John hasn’t slept with his wife/girlfirend – yet) – they share the same position. Thats right, they areboth right sided central defenders. So in signing Luiz have Chelsea admitted that Terry is now a weak link?

Make no mistakes about this. These moves for Chelsea had more to do with making sure they don’t slip behind Tottenham or moving ahead of City in the table. Roman Abramovich is an egotist and his team has to play in the Champion’s League. If they hold their current form, their dream of winning it this year will end before March does. If that happens and they also manage to have Spurs pip them to fourth, there will be a drop in Chelsea revenues that Roman couldn’t handle – egototistically speaking.

Finally, for Chelsea, this means that this summer like last, you should expect to see some players jettisoned. IN order for Chelsea to comply with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, Chelsea are going to have to lose some salaries. Chelsea before their mega signing said they had loses in excess of £64 million. That number is going to increase because they tied Nando up for a 5 year deal worth £180K a week. Chelsea are going to have to pull the belt in to comply. Should be an interesting summer to see who goes – my best guesses by the way. Ashley Cole to Madrid and Anelka to somwhere in England.

As for Caroll whom I alluded to in oopening of this piece, I simply do not understand the English mindset on this. He has played well no doubt but he is crocked right now and he has only played in 6 months of the EPL. And yet he garnered a £35 million bid. Mike Ashley is laughing himself all the way to the bean shelf (while Newcastle fans burn him in effigy).  Seriously this is just outrageous. But ah well.

As for Arsenal. Next to United they were the quietest club today. Now, I hve to confess that like a lot of the naysayers, doom and gloomers and some of the more rationale fans, I did want to see a cover brought in for CB. Even a loan for Rangers CB Majid Bougherra  would have sufficed for me. But for whatever reason, Wenger did not budge.

I don’t pretend to know what deals Wenger looked at or didn’t but from a couple of press repots it did look like that Arsenal made a player for Raul Albiol from Real Madrdi and Matthew Upson from West Ham. In both cases the team was rebuked. Again, I am not sure if this true. It is just what was relayed to me.

But again I would like to reiterate something about this defence that some people believe is so frail and weak:

1. They are the fourth best squad in goals allowed

2. They haven’t allowed a goal in 2011 (League play)

3. They are second or third best team in shots allowed

4. Currently on a run of 3 clean sheets in the league

All in all the team isn’t doing too poorly with this make shift defence.

Finally, as for the players out on loan. The official site has said today that the team is considering recalling players to fill in for the injured/suspended players. However, if the player is signed to a “youth loan” then the club cannot recall them. Such is the way those contracts are set up.  As for the outflux of players to other clubs, I see the rationale for this in a couple of ways. First it gets the players more playing time. Remember most of the players going out on loan, would’ve been the Carling Cup/Reserve squad. Well, considering the A/B team will take us home in the Carling Cup many of these players simply would not play at all this season.

Additionally, with roster squad sizes rules, this was likely the best solution. And finally, for those ranting about Bartley’s loan, someone please tell me when Kyle Bartley figuredinto even our THIRD team plans?


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